Department of
Entomology

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Pollinators not getting the 'buzz' they need in news coverage

A dramatic decline in bees and other pollinating insects presents a threat to the global food supply, yet it’s getting little attention in mainstream news.

That’s the conclusion of a study from researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, published this week in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was based on a search of nearly 25 million news items from six prominent U.S. and global news sources, among them The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Associated Press.

The study found “vanishingly low levels of attention to pollinator population topics” over several decades, even compared with what many would consider the limited coverage of climate change.

The study, titled “No buzz for bees,” was led by Scott Althaus, the director of the U. of I. Cline Center for Advanced Social Research, and May Berenbaum, a leading expert on pollinator declines, head of Illinois’ entomology department and one of three editors of the PNAS special issue.

The research utilized the Cline Center’s Global News Index, a unique database of millions of news items from thousands of global news sources, published over decades.

“No study like this, and certainly not at this scale, has ever been done before,” said Althaus, also an expert on news coverage and its effects. “There simply has not been academic research on the evolving nature of news coverage given to pollinator declines, despite the importance of that topic within the scientific community.”

Read the full article at the Illinois News Bureau


Publication Date: 01/13/2021
Photo credits: L. Brian Stauffer
Editor: Craig Chamberlain